CBD COP14: Who benefits from gene drives as a modern biotechnology?
by Kwami D. Kpondzo, Campaigns Officer at Les Amis de la Terre Togo and Africa Regional Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition
The world is suffering because biodiversity is poorly protected and poorly preserved. The question remains, how do we plan to conserve biodiversity for a better life on earth? Is it by traditional knowledge or by modern technology? Indeed, today, modern biotechnology is put forward as the solution to improve the life of human beings on Earth. This technology invades the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries with the aim of improving productivity. It is at the root of the destruction of biodiversity and the imbalance in the harmony of nature.
In addition, the introduction of biotechnologies such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic biology and gene drives (digital sequence information technologies) have an impact on the livelihoods of communities. GMOs were originally promoted with the claim that they would benefit people and biodiversity as well, but this is not the case. The example of failed BT cotton in India and Burkina are examples of why we do not need these risky and failed technologies.
In India, the Andhra Pradesh Coalition, in its report titled “Did BT cotton still fail in Andhra Pradesh in 2003-2004?”, investigated the cases of 164 small-scale farmers in three districts in Andhra Pradesh between 2003 and 2004. The report states that BT cotton increased yields insignificantly and that overall profits of farmers growing BT cotton were reduced by 9%.
In Africa, a COPAGEN report titled “BT Cotton and us – The Truth of Our Fields! “, published in April 29, 2017, draws a damning conclusion. It describes the consequences, in Burkina Faso, of genetically modified cotton cultivation developed by Monsanto. The field research over a period of three years involving 203 cotton producers clearly showed that in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 cotton seasons, yields were lower than those of conventional cotton. These examples show the danger of the use of these modern biotechnologies in agriculture.
There is clearly a conflict of interest between the conservation of biodiversity and the use of genetically modified organisms and other forms of modern biotechnology like gene drives. Gene drives could have a serious impact on human health, environment and biodiversity.
In light of the various findings on the use of modern biotechnology in agriculture, there is every reason to believe that the promoters of modern biotechnology are benefiting from it.
We say NO to gene drives and all false solutions to the biodiversity crisis.